Latvia needs Stinger missiles says Defense Minister

With Russia spending large amounts on its military over a period of five to ten years, Latvia needs to boost its own ability to defend itself, Raimonds Vejonis, the Defense Minister said Monday.

Speaking on Latvian Radio, Vejonis said Russia's military build-up was effectively causing a new arms race and drew particular attention to the fact that a modern attack helicopter base is operational just over the Latvian border near the city of Pskov.

“In Russia at Ostrova is a modern helicopter base. The helicopters could fly in our direction and we wouldn't notice if they were flying low – that's a serious problem for our military,” Vejonis said, “We need the ability to monitor our borders and react.”

In order to respond to the threat, Latvia needs to invest around 140 million euros over eight years on air defense including advanced radar and the “stinger” ground-to-air missile system, Vejonis said.

The US-developed Stinger missile system is shoulder-mounted and highly portable. It has been in service since 1981 and is used by 30 armies worldwide.

The government is due to discuss Latvia's air defense capability and the eight-year military modernization plan in a special closed cabinet session on July 22.

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